City Floats 15 JP-Only Alcohol Licenses

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CJ Reese, who like a large majority of the staff lives in or very near JP, tends bar.

Chris Helms

File photo: CJ Reese, who like a large majority of the staff lives in or very near JP, tends bar at the Frogmore.

File photo: CJ Reese, who like a large majority of the staff lives in or very near JP, tends bar at the Frogmore, which gained a full alcohol license in March 2016.

Chris Helms

Jamaica Plain businesses would get five new booze licenses a year for three years under a proposal floated Monday.

Mayor Marty Walsh and City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley announced the plan, which would add a total of 105 licenses to JP, Hyde Park, Roxbury, East Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan and Mission Hill.

In a holdover from the days when the state did not trust Boston to distribute its own booze licenses, a restauranteur faces six-digit costs and Byzantine rules to serve vodka, stout or chardonnay. All licenses are tightly regulated and involve approvals at both the state and city levels.

Pressley, taking up liquor licenses as an economic development issue, shepherded a similar program through in 2014. Several JP restaurants benefited from that effort, which added 75 liquor licenses to Boston neighborhoods outside downtown.

"This is the next natural step in our push to reduce disparities in neighborhood sit-down restaurants across the city," Pressley said in an announcement of the new effort.

The plan also has several provisions that would not affect JP, such as "umbrella licenses" for developments more than 500,000 square feet. As Universal Hub pointed out, this would extend the arrangement enjoyed by Logan Airport to other large complexes such as Seaport Square in Southie. The total number of licenses added city-wide would be 152.

The JP-only licenses would be doled out five per year from 2017 through 2019. The mix would be two all-alcohol licenses and three malt-and-wine permits. Like other such licenses, these would not be transferable.

The getting and losing of booze licenses is a big deal for JP's restaurants. Here are a few recent stories we've done on the subject:

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